When I woke up this morning, I walked half-asleep to breakfast for some pre-dig nourishment. As part of a group, Bliss and I headed out to the excavation site where we got to work immediately. While Bliss—as he mentioned above—worked on C North, I walked over to C Central to discover a much drier terrain than yesterday—thank God!
At the start of the day, everyone on the dig thought that we would be rained out by at latest 2 P.M. The dark clouds appeared gloomy over us, and the wind chill did not help the already ominous weather.
However, the morning was pleasant. Because I was mainly working in the shade, the stinging rays of the sun could not reach much of me. In the comforts of the shade, I dug to expose more of a wall that was identified as the eastern wall of a drain that amazingly still works to this day! It was just another reminder of the supernatural architectural skills the Romans had. If only we did.
In addition to the drain, my group and I worked on a side chamber of the drain that is currently unidentified. Although most of our site had dried off, there was still quite a bit of mud that hindered my ability to stay clean—that was never my hope anyway, coming to an archaeological dig.
One of the walls of that chamber was fascinating and puzzling, since it didn’t align with the neatness with which the other, adjacent wall of the chamber was built. Why would the Roman construction workers create one perfect wall, only to connect it with a ramshackle one? These were the types of questions my work at the dig attempted to answer. Unfortunately, and understandably (it was just our first day there) we found no reasonable answer.
After lunch, our group continued working on the same site, while checking the sky every five minutes to see the cumulus clouds come over us like a cape. The forecast had predicted that thunderstorms would crowd the site at around 2 in the afternoon, but slight drizzles were the only kind of precipitation. When the time ticked to 3 P.M. the breeze had grown stronger and the sky, darker. But lucky for us, the rain never started. The dark clouds split just as they were about to strike down on us, and we were safe.
Following both the morning and afternoon digs, I was drained—just like the water in the flooded areas of our excavation site.
Nonetheless, the dig, my first one at C Central, was tiring and bug-filled, yet rewarding and enlightening. I look forward to another fascinating outing tomorrow. (It is scheduled to rain tomorrow—again).
Ciao amici! Although yesterday was surely a great way to begin the digging experience, today resulted in a much more typical day of work because of the clear weather and lack of rain.
After a slightly earlier bedtime, I woke up fresh and relieved from jetlag at 6:45 A.M. After my quick feast on the imported German wafers and cookies I bought in the grocery store yesterday, the bus left and we were in the trenches at eight o’clock. Unlike Tuesday, when the previous night’s rain had rendered the dirt muddy and thus harder to work with, the ground was dry and therefore we were able to commence work immediately.
Today’s labor was diverse—basically, in the morning we worked on fully eliminating locus 646 (the mound of dirt covering the last bit of locus 590, which encompasses most of Trench C North), and in the afternoon we began to clear away the pile of rocks scattered at the bottom of the whole site, known as locus 658. The first task upon which I embarked was “trowling,” as part of a line, the remainders of locus 646. This involved running my trowel over the dirt to turn it over and then using a brush and dustpan to collect the loosened dust. When the ground became more firm, however, I finally got the chance to use a miniature pickaxe to loosen up the soil—a fun, although blistering experience. Soon enough we cleared away the layer of muddy soil to expose locus 590, characterized by its graininess and mortar-specks. What was more interesting, however, was what was uncovered underneath the other’s trowls. Some of my comrades (re)-revealed a wall last seen in 2012 as locus 591, which must have been forgotten about. The fact that this wall existed under locus 590, which was formerly considered the terminus of the site, strongly implies that the complex had at least one more terrace extending further than expected. Further, the fact that the new wall did not contain mortar means that it was an Etruscan construction within a predominantly Roman-built area, showing that we have encountered an older part of the site. This was a quite opportune discovery and we cleaned out and photo-dusted the surrounding area so photos and survey could be taken.
For lunch we traveled to the local hilltop town of Monte Rubiaglio, a settlement of roughly 300 inhabitants typical of Central Italy. Walking around, one of our comrades noticed the floral decorations of basically every house—even most rooftops had gardens. I used my Italian skills to order a slice of pizza at a local corner store, and, after a quick break, we hurried back to Coriglia to beat out the incoming clouds.
In the afternoon, after tarping loci 590 and 591, we moved to the neighboring rock-pile to see if we could find any new structures there. My supervisors often state that “digging is destroying,” and over there I could really understand this statement for the first time. Under Darlene’s instructions to “rip out” the rocks “like children at an Easter egg hunt,” we tore apart the top layer of the pile with picks and scooped the remaining avalanches of dirt into buckets. Under all of this chaos, however, was a new layer, or locus, which is yet to be named—this layer was characterized by much charcoal. Similar deposits found in other loci throughout the site and the collapsed vault in C South, according to one of the supervisors, could suggest a destructive fire-event in ancient times at this site. Although a fire may have happened then, there has been much rain here in Umbria lately and the forecast for tomorrow calls for more. We might not get the chance to dig, but I’m sure that will provide us with a good opportunity to work in the laboratory more. We’ll see how it turns out.